Standardized Testing
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An Opt Out Letter That Speaks to All Parents

One household notifies the authorities that their son will no longer be participating in state-mandated high-stakes testing, citing the impact it has on the child. Here is an excerpt from the letter, as published by Education Roundtable. Students – who mature at vastly different paces – should not ever be measured by a mass-produced blunt instrument. I will no longer allow our son to be a part of this mythological…

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How Daydreams and Videogames Can Make Us Confident In Real Life (Yes)

Is there a daydreamer in your life? There are a couple in mine. (And sometimes, it’s me.) Here’s a look at the benefits of “relaxed attention.” Daydreaming has problem-solving power. Sometimes it helps to stop focusing so intently on an issue, and aim for what IDEO founder David Kelley’s mentor Bob McKim used to call “relaxed attention.” In that mental state, the problem or challenge occupies space in your brain,…

The Value of Failure

Upon reading that recent message from my inbox, I wanted to shout out “let your child fail.” The shouting was not due to frustration, rather to be sure that my voice was heard by many. And when I say fail, I mean fall. Let them fall. How can we learn to get back up if we never fall? Or if someone else always picks us up. Too often today, students…

Sinéad O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus

I was never a fan of Sinéad O’Connor, but I remember being impressed back in the 80s when Madonna’s bohemian antics were threatening to overwhelm her talent (not that I was a fan of Madonna, either), and a wise-sounding O’Connor told her some of the same things she has just told Miley Cyrus. You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see…

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Intimations of Mortality

Plato, Montaigne, Pascal—those were the major figures in the philosophical pantheon of my student days. But concurrently, in my literature classes, I came to be moved by poems such as John Donne’s defiant sonnet “Death Be Not Proud,” which concludes on the paradoxically triumphant note that, for the dead, death shall be no more, that death shall die. I was later even more moved—no doubt because of the association with…

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Date a girl who reads.

I earned a +8 or +9 spousal bonus when I told my wife this little essay, by Rosemarie Urquico, made me think of her. It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand…

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The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades, by Lori Weiss

Over the next three hours, The 9 Nanas who all consider themselves sisters, despite what some of their birth certificates say will whip up hundreds of pound cakes, as part of a grand scheme to help those in need. And then, before anyone gets as much as a glimpse of them, they’ll disappear back into their daily lives. The only hint that may remain is the heavenly scent of vanilla,…

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What if thinking is underrated?

What if the most underrated skill in school is thinking? I know, that sounds crazy. But how often do we tell kids what they are going to learn, tell them what to make, tell them what tool to use, tell them when to finish, tell them what questions to find the answers to. What if we stopped telling them things? –Krissy Venosdale {Venspired}.